Author Archives: Brenna Chen

Hike at Rancho San Antonio

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated the end of the school year with a sweet hike in Rancho San Antonio by joining Debbie on one of her Hill Runs at Rancho San Antonio. I hadn’t gone on a hike in quite a while, and this immersion into nature was a wonderful break and transition into summer.

Although I had difficulty locating the other hikers at first, we soon began to trek along the trail, surrounded by a golden expanse of plants, the blazing sun causing trickles of sweat down my neck. Admittedly, much of my focus was on the trail (attempting to avoid the dreaded dog poop!), but I also was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery (and occasional wildlife) and novelty of being surrounded by nature rather than by books in a classroom.

I loved talking to Debbie and Melissa, and their conversations about their children, interspersed with throwbacks, made me smile. I was reminded again by the great opportunities hiking provides for easy conversations and bonding. The children were also a great throwback to my own childhood and a delight. Watching them race down the hills and even sprinting with Max at the end gave me nostalgia, as I reminisced about my carefree, childish past (and even indulged in that side a little as I mingled with the children). I also loved how creative Debbie got with encouraging her daughter Holly to finish the hike, pointing at landmarks on the trail to race to until we almost reached the end, admiring and realizing the effort and creativity needed to raise children.

Overall, the hike was so much fun! It was perfect timing too: a well-needed respite from school and a fitting return to summer. If you’d like to experience the trail, visit the Rancho San Antonio Trail at (but beware of parking!) I attended the Hill Runs at Rancho San Antonio, which are currently unavailable during the summer as Debbie and Melissa are both traveling, but will possibly return during the school year, so keep an eye out!

Happy hiking!

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An Inspiring Mom

Taking your children outside is one thing, but Ann Marie Cody takes outdoor exercise with kids to a whole new level: beating a world record for fastest half-marathon while pushing a triple pram with her triplets. Dubbed the “superwoman” mom, Cody seeks to inspire other moms that they can stay healthy and balanced while also remaining a good parent, and that you can still maintain your hobbies after having kids, and maybe even find a way to incorporate your children into these hobbies like she did! 🙂
Check out this article for more info on this inspiring mom:
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The Origin of April Showers

Ironically, although April has arrived, bringing along the term “April Showers,” California has already displayed the weather patterns of summer with sweltering afternoons rather than rain, still gradually recovering from drought. However, one question I wondered about was what brought this term April Showers?

The sterotypical belief of April is that “April Showers bring May Flowers,” implying that the rainy season has arrived and it is the perfect time to plant your flowers! But this saying actually originated since 1157 in a short poem titled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry” by Thomas Tusser, which says,

“Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers”

Incredibly, this phrase has been echoed throughout many centuries, even perpetuating modern society through the belief that April is the time to don rain boots, umbrellas and plant flowers to bloom in May!








And another question is: is this saying true? Although not entirely relevant to California, rain does have an effect on timing and abundance of flowering, said David W. Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Inouye, who has studied bloom times in the Rocky Mountains, noted that some plants flower at the start of a rainy season and that some species might flower a second time in late summer after another good soaking. Therefore, this phrase may hold some merit after all; however, you might have to search for a wet season and the resulting May flowers elsewhere from California!

This was just my spontaneous thought of the day; I believed this phrase was fitting for the month, and the idea simply did “spring” on me! 🙂

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A Brief Break from Reality

As spring began its gradual transition to the swelter of summer, I decided to take a hike by myself on a mildly warm afternoon last Saturday. “Maybe it’ll clear my mind,” I thought.

And clear my mind it did. As I trudged on the Fremont Older trails, the sun gradually setting, the heat gradually settling, sweat gradually condensing and trickling down my face, I was shocked by the simple lack of anything typically revolving in my life. In fact, I had even sacrificed my precious phone for a more authentic experience, but I had never expected this true empty space, fortified from the bustle of outside life and faced only with the heat, the trail and my footsteps. No longer was I stressed with the thought that I had homework I had procrastinated on, tests I should study for, tasks I had forgotten. I simply allowed myself to relax, think and drift, grounded by only the steady pounding on the dusty trail.

And nature was my companion, my eyes filled with the occasional intriguing tree or greenery on the side of the dusty trail, scattered with some extremely fancy houses I often stopped to admire. In fact, I easily lost track of time, only roughly estimating time by the location of the sun in the sky and my measure of exhaustion as I continued to walk on. Yet I was strangely exhilarated, liberated, at peace through my walk, simply absorbing sights, sounds, and my thoughts – or often, lack of thoughts. I realized, this is what it’s like to put down your phone, listen to your breath and your steps, and just relax – providing a brief break from reality.

Although this hike was fun, I think I’ll drag my mom along next time; conversation and company would be a delightful bonus to my next adventure!

To experience my hike at Fremont Older (, try the 3.8 mile Seven Springs Route ( or the 2.4 mile Hunter’s Point Route (

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How Plants “Work”

Although the current temperature in California hints at spring weather, I was still surprised to see tinges of green on some of the trees, especially as over a month of winter is still to be expected.

This led me to recall a recent biology lecture at school onto why and how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and why they are green, and it was fascinating for me to connect school knowledge to something I witnessed on the streets and hiking trails!
Here is a brief summary: Plants appear green because they can absorb and use all light except for green, which they reflect. These light particles, called photons, strike leaf pigments called chlorophyll. The photons breaks down water, releasing the oxygen that we need to survive, and energize electrons, which latch onto electron carriers and go through a series of chemical reactions. This creates an electrical gradient, ultimately leading to formation of high-energy molecules such as ATP. This leads to the Calvin Cycle, where enzymes along with electron carriers transform ATP into the much more stable form of energy: glucose. The plant can use the glucose for all the things we do – to grow, to metabolize – or we can tap that tree for sap such as maple syrup.  This is a highly efficient process that makes use of our most plentiful energy resource — light.

This cool connection to my biology lecture allowed me to realize how amazing plants truly are – and how under appreciated they are. The next time I hike, I’ll be sure to admire these trees in all their beauty – and for all they do for us!


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